A New Jersey native visiting one of South Carolina’s coastal swamps stumbled on a rare moment of animal intimacy this week between an alligator and turtle -- though it’s clear the turtle wasn’t enjoying the attention.
Photos shared by Christine Fusco show the gator had fallen asleep atop several turtles, with one very distressed turtle serving as a pillow. (That turtle is seen with its head stretched as far as possible from the alligator’s mouth.)
“The alligator seems very content...and a little bit sassy,” Fusco told the Charlotte Observer. “I knew I had to capture the moment. It was something that had to be shared. As slow as turtles move and as fast as a gator can move, it could be over in a split second.”
Fusco, an amateur photographer, says she happened on the scene Thursday at the Magnolia Plantation swamp garden outside Charleston. A retiree, she moved to the area a year ago from Toms River, New Jersey.
“I was there late afternoon to get pictures of the great blue herons during their courtship,” Fusco told the Observer. “I am still very leery walking through the swamp, with the number of gators that are in the water and sometimes basking along the path.”
Her photo has been shared hundreds of times in the past day, with some comparing it to a moment from a Disney cartoon and others pointing out that alligators eat turtles.
“I guess it’s either be a pillow or be dinner,” wrote Ray Worthy on Facebook.
“Warming up his lunch,” posted Heather McEwan Tropauer.
“Gives new meaning to a box lunch,” said Eva MariaPuo on Facebook.
Coincidentally, Fusco says she has actually seen an alligator eat a turtle since moving to Charleston. That incident concluded with “a loud crunch,” she says.